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JAFSCD cover spring 2014, volume 4, issue 3


Good Food Education & Training

There are many approaches to getting a college degree that will give you the tools and credentials you need to be an agriculture and food system development practitioner. As they relate to this emerging field, some of the academic approaches you can take include:


Sustainable agriculture: Focuses on growing techniques and livestock management.

Environmental science: Focuses on healthy soils and watersheds; also energy issues.

City and regional planning: Urban planners tend to focus on community food security, while rural planners tend to focus on farmland protection.

Plant science or horticulture: Focuses on plant breeding, pest and disease control.

Agricultural economics: Focuses on financial viability, economic impacts, marketing.

Nutritional sciences: Focuses on food security, hunger, nutrition education.

Sociology and anthropology: Focuses on human values, community development strategies, organizational structure.



There are a number of sustainable agriculture programs at U.S. universities. There are fewer (but a growing number of) interdisciplinary degree programs in food systems and/or food studies that integrate social, physical, and life sciences and even the liberal arts; they blend sustainable agriculture, food security, value-chain development, food service, and other topics. These programs are much broader than any one of the above degrees alone. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have new information to add to this list. Another source of listings is at the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association.


College of the Atlantic Sustainable Food Systems, Bar Harbor, Maine

Offers a B.A. in Human Ecology with a concentration in Sustainable Food Systems. On-campus sustainable facilities include Beech Hill Farm. COA's approach to food systems engages students in examining the many social, cultural, political, ecological, and economic implications of the ways our food is perceived, produced, and consumed. From rural development to the politics of globalization, from land conservation to local food systems and social justice, students use interdisciplinary perspectives to understand, critique, and work to improve global and local food systems.


Green Mountain College Masters of Sustainable Food Systems (Distance Learning Degree)

The Masters of Science in Sustainable Food Systems is the first distance learning program of its kind in the country. We recognize that people working in changing food systems tend to be rooted in place, and the MSFS program allows students to remain committed to their communities and professions. Not only do students explore their own bioregional foodsheds, but they also contrast their findings with students from other parts of the U.S. and abroad, enhancing their understanding of food system dynamics and leverage points for change.


Marylhurst College  M.S. in Food Systems and Society, Portland, Oregon (Distance Learning Degree)

Online courses with short on-campus sessionsThe M.S. in Food Systems and Society combines interactive online classes with short, collaborative on-campus intensive sessions. Students come to campus only twice each year for up to five days to work with program faculty and other food system leaders. This allows you to develop lasting peer relationships both in person and through dynamic online communication and continue to live and work in your community of choice.



Iowa State University, Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture, Ames, Iowa

The GPSA was the first and remains the only graduate program in the US to offer both the MS and Ph.D. degrees in sustainable agriculture. While competing programs have arisen in agroecology and organic agriculture, the GPSA remains the only grad program that allows students to pursue a truly interdisciplinary curriculum that includes the biological, social, and economic elements of sustainability.


Michigan State University, Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies, East Lansing, Michigan

As scholar-practitioners, and as a multidisciplinary department within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, we address critical issues at the interfaces of agriculture, natural resources, recreation, and communities. Our public scholarship of research, teaching, and outreach helps people in their roles as residents, landowners, businesses, and governmental and non-profit institutions to make informed decisions while not compromising future generations. We seek to help people understand the dynamic interactions in their communities, ecosystems, and the world, as well as opportunities for sustainable revitalization. This work is rooted in our view of a just, engaged, and dynamic society. Toward that end, we are guided by an ethic of responsible and responsive scholarship that engages people in an integrative process to maximize effectiveness. Students may become involved with the C. S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University http://www.mottgroup.msu.edu/. The C. S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU engages communities in applied research and outreach to promote sustainable food systems.  The group's goal is to improve access and availability of locally produced food.


Montana State University, Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems Program, Bozeman, Montana

Interdisciplinary B.S. degree program in Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems. The program has three degree options and is housed within three separate academic departments:

1. Sustainable Food Systems (Department of Health and Human Development);

2. Agroecology (Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences); and

3. Sustainable Crop Production (Department of Plant Science and Plant Pathology).


Research in sustainable crop production issues such as soil fertility, natural resource conservation, pest management, nutrient cycling, variety testing, and other problems specifically associated with small-scale or market gardening endeavors. Bioenergy-related research areas involve production, processing, and performance questions related to crops grown for biodiesel, ethanol, or cellulosic ethanol production. Food research areas include community food security, public health and human nutrition, and production, marketing, distribution and access within local food systems. Internships are available in a student-run Community Supported Agriculture program.


New York University (NYU) Master's of Arts Program in Food Studies, New York, New York


The Food Studies M.A. program includes two areas of concentration:

  • Food Culture examines the social, economic, cultural, and psychological factors that have influenced food consumption practices and patterns in the past and present. Students research historical, sociological and anthropological aspects of food.
  • Food Systems explores food systems, tracing commodities and agricultural concerns from production through consumption. It emphasizes international, national, and local food systems, where students explore environmental, ethical, and economic factors in food production and distribution. 

Syrucasue University, Food Studies Program, Syracuse, New York

Food Studies offers a bachelor of science (B.S.) and minor in Food Studies. Students learn about the Food industry in areas including food science, organic production, local food movement, genetic modification of food and nanotechnology and food access in the U.S.


Tufts University, Agriculture, Food and Environment (AFE) Program, Boston, Massachusetts

To educate future leaders at the nexus of agriculture, food, and environmental science and policy, and empower them by providing rigorous training, an ethic of social change, and an intellectual community generating visions and models of alternative systems. The Agriculture, Food and Environment (AFE) program within the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy fuses the disciplines of nutrition, agricultural science, environmental studies, and public policy. It offers M.S., Ph.D. and combined degree programs, diverse community service and internship placements, and opportunities to participate in research on sustainable agriculture, local food systems, and consumer behavior related to food and the environment. Students in the AFE degree program learn to evaluate the ecological, political, economic and social aspects of food production and distribution. Faculty members come from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.


Unity College, Agriculture, Food, and Sustainability, Unity, Maine

Agriculture, Food, and Sustainability majors are farm-focused and community-minded. They are interested in the ways in which local farmers and food enterprises contribute to a healthy food supply — from growing crops and raising animals, all the way through to distribution and fair access to food. They are keenly interested in where their food comes from. They have an innate respect for the land, what it provides, and the people who work it. They are both naturalists and business people.


Agriculture, Food, and Sustainability majors are not afraid to be advocates for social change when it comes to protecting farmlands and furthering best practices in agriculture. They are concerned about changing government food policies. They care about alleviating hunger at the town level and beyond. They see great opportunity in the future of farming. They want to play an active role in producing nutritious food and making it more accessible to all.



University of British Columbia, Land and Food Systems, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS) uses student-centered learning to educate new generations of scientists equipped to solve the most fundamental issues faced by society — those focused around human health, a sustainable food supply and the responsible use of finite land and water resources. One of UBC’s three founding faculties, LFS (formerly Agricultural Sciences) changed its name in 2005 to better reflect its interdisciplinary research and focus on sustainability. The importance of healthy and sustainable land and food systems cannot be underestimated as the foundation that touches almost every area of our lives and the lives of our local and global communities. We are educating students to be global citizens, capable of creating change and critically considering issues vital to the sustainability and advancement of local and global communities. Using an integrated approach that unites scientific knowledge and interdisciplinary studies, our graduates use an international perspective to address pressing societal issues. Students are encouraged to direct their own education and bring classroom theories to life through problem-based learning, co-op and exchange programs, community service learning and new learning technologies.



University of California (Davis), Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, Davis, California

UC Davis faculty and students are developing a new undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture and food systems. The major will include several innovative features designed to help students acquire the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to develop and work in more ecologically, economically, and socially viable food and farming systems. 


University of California–Santa Cruz, The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, Santa Cruz, California

The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems is a research, education, and public service program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture system. On the UCSC campus, the Center operates the 2-acre Alan Chadwick Garden and the 25-acre Farm. Both sites are managed using organic production methods and serve as research, teaching, and training facilities for students, staff, and faculty.


University of Massachusetts, Sustainable Agriculture-Food Systems, Amherst, Massachusetts

Sustainable Food and Farming allows students who are focused on social, political and scientific issues of sustainable agriculture and food systems to seek a broad exposure to this discipline in the liberal arts tradition. Students are exposed to a range of courses, including the biophysical aspects of agriculture, economic aspects of food production and distribution, as well as the social elements affecting food policy and access issues. The curriculum combines a solid foundation in horticulture and pest management, and then allows customizing by the student in areas such as business administration, nonprofit organization, sociology, political science, community outreach and education, among others. By combining crop production training with skills in communication, education, grant writing, nutrition, resource economics, land-use planning, cultural sensitivity, community organizing, and/or policy development, students gain a broader understanding of the many socioeconomic aspects surrounding food production, access and distribution. Students can tailor their individual programs to prepare for careers in policy, advocacy, community outreach and education on topics related to crop production, food access, and hunger issues, just to name a few. Graduates will be uniquely qualified to compete successfully for a wide array of emerging careers in the growing field of food systems.


University of New Hampshire, Dual Major in EcoGastronomy, Durham, New Hampshire


Are you interested in growing food, cooking food, and eating healthfully? Do you want to learn about the complex and holistic nature of our food community? If you answered yes, then get ready to enhance your primary major and expand your professional opportunities with a dual major in EcoGastronomy. Integrating UNH strengths in sustainable agriculture, hospitality management, and nutrition, EcoGastronomy offers a unique academic program emphasizing the interdisciplinary, international, and experiential knowledge that connects all three fields. And as a dual major, the program provides a complement to any primary major. The dual major is:

  • Experiential: Real world experiences on farms, in kitchens, in labs, and in the community.
  • Interdisciplinary: Cross-cutting curriculum including studies in sustainable agriculture, hospitality management, and nutrition.
  • International: Foreign experience at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy.

University of Vermont, Applied Masters Degree in Food Systems, Burlington, Vermont

UVM has been awarded a grant to develop this as a new program. The objectives of a University of Vermont Master's degree in Food Systems are:

  1. To provide students with an interdisciplinary educational experience that offers exposure to the broad range of issues affecting the food system, alongside opportunities to delve more deeply into particular areas of individual interest.
  2. To build an interdisciplinary systems framework that allows students from diverse backgrounds to cooperatively apply the analytical tools from their past training to investigate complex issues in food and agriculture.
  3. To create meaningful, real-world experiences for students to bring their academic work into practice throughout their time pursuing a Master's degree.
  4. To enhance faculty research through building collaborative projects in food systems studies, within UVM, with faculty at collaborating institutions, and with partner organizations outside the university system.
  5. To ensure that the work done at UVM strengthens the agricultural sector as a whole by communicating research findings, working with stakeholders to identify priority research areas, and connecting potential employers with graduates prepared to excel in all areas of the food system.

University of Vermont, Minor in Food Systems (FS), Burlington, Vermont

This interdisciplinary minor in Food Systems gives students the knowledge and skills necessary to understand our complex interdependent food system of food production, processing, distribution, and consumption.


Washington State University, Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Food Systems, Pullman, Washington


The Agricultural and Food Systems degree program is an exciting, collegewide, interdisciplinary program that offers a Bachelor of Science degree with five majors from which to choose: Agricultural Technology and Production Management, Agricultural Education, Organic Agriculture Systems, Agricultural and Food Business Economics, Agriculture and Food Security. In each major, emphasis is placed on gaining a solid background in the agricultural sciences, including learning to work with and in the complexity of agriculture and food systems. All students take a core set of classes in order to develop a broad interdisciplinary background while also studying specific subjects that prepare graduates for their chosen fields. An internship related to the students focus area is included in these requirements.


Chatham University (USA) Food Studies, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Chatham's Masters of Arts in Food Studies emphasizes a holistic approach to food systems, from agriculture and food production to cuisines and consumption, providing intellectual and practical experience from field to table. One of the greatest attributes a food studies education can supply is understanding. Understanding of how food is grown, treated, harvested, sold, purchased, consumed, shared, and disposed of. Understanding of the impact it has on its suppliers, consumers, and environment. And understanding of how it affects us all.


New York University, Food Studies, New York City

Food Studies at NYU is one of the first master's degree programs in the U.S. devoted to food scholarship. Employing approaches from the humanities and social sciences, the program prepares students to analyze the current American food system, its global connections, and local alternatives. The program examines cultural, political, economic, environmental, and geographic approaches to food within local, urban and global contexts.


University of Rhode Island, The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (SAFS)

SAFS is a graduate specialization takes a systems-based, interdisciplinary approach to the biological and environmental sciences as applied to agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, nutrition, and food safety. Our diverse group of faculty, with contributors from both the natural and social sciences, use a broad array of approaches to help achieve economically and ecologically sustainable production, management, consumption, and utilization of plants and animals for the development of healthy communities.


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Civic Agriculture and Food Systems (Multidisciplinary Minor)

The minor in Civic Agriculture and Food Systems embodies a commitment to developing and strengthening an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable system of agriculture and food systems that relies on local resources and serves local markets and citizens. The minor is committed to serving the needs of all students and is designed to promote academic enhancement, personal growth, and civic engagement while strengthening student's capacity to learn about civic agriculture and food systems through reflection and experiential practice to solve real- world problem.


New School Food Studies, New York City

The Food Studies BA/BS degree is offered through The New School's Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students. Led by our expert faculty, you'll explore subjects ranging from food-growing practices and food marketing to global food security and public health issues like obesity and malnutrition. Partnerships with advocacy organizations and culinary schools enable you to supplement your classroom learning with hands-on experience.

Drawing on a number of disciplines, including anthropology, economics, gastronomy, systems design, and public policy analysis, the program prepares you to implement positive changes in food systems by engaging with processes of production, distribution, consumption, and regulation.


Sterling College, Sustainable Food Systems, Craftsbury, Vermont

Studying sustainable food systems means taking an ecological approach to the future of food and food production. Students will examine the social, cultural, and ecological impacts of the way food is produced, consumed, and regarded.

Students will start with an immersion in the food systems of this region of Vermont, with hands-on culinary experiences, field visits to the region's artisanal food producers, seminars in food writing, and intensives in small-scale value-added products such as cheese, meat, and lacto-fermentation.


Tufts University, Agriculture, Food & Environment, Medford, Massachusetts

The Agriculture, Food and Environment (AFE) program within the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy fuses the disciplines of nutrition, agricultural science, environmental studies, and public policy. We offer M.S., Ph.D. and combined degree programs, diverse community service and internship placements, and opportunities to participate in research on sustainable agriculture, local food systems, and consumer behavior related to food and the environment. Students in the AFE degree program learn to evaluate the ecological, political, economic and social aspects of food production and distribution.


University of British Columbia, Land and Food Systems, Vancouver, Bitish Columbia

The UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems uses student-centered learning to educate new generations of scientists equipped to solve the most fundamental issues faced by society — those focused around human health, a sustainable food supply and the responsible use of finite land and water resources.


Kansas State University, M.S. in Horticulture with an emphasis inUrban Food Systems

The aim of this program is to study the potential an urban food system has in community building and economic development, educating youth and others about nutrition and wise food choices, and providing a source for nutritious food grown locally or regionally with the participation of urban residents. The specialization places an emphasis on sustainable agriculture, project management, and grant writing, in addition to having a solid foundation in urban food production.M.S. in Horticulture with an emphasis inUrban Food Systems.


University of the Pacific Master of Arts in Food Studies, San Francisco

University of the Pacific is pleased to announce the first Food Studies master's degree program on the West Coast, a course of study designed for working professionals with a career or personal interest in food and the ways that people have grown, prepared and profited from it through history and across cultures. The multidisciplinary program will prepare students for success in food-related professions, from food writing to food history, food advocacy, policymaking, sustainability, and business related fields. The program will be offered at Pacific's new state-of-the-art campus in the SoMa (South of Market) district of San Francisco.


Last updated: October 5, 2016


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